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Cotton buyers turn away from the US, look to India

The world’s top cotton buyers, all in Asia, are flocking to India. Fierce hurricanes in the United States, the biggest exporter of the fiber, have affected the size and quality of the crop this year. Buyers are switching to Indian cotton. This could help India’s exports grow by a quarter in the 2017-18 season beginning October. Two fierce hurricanes -- Harvey and Irma -- caused widespread damage to the crop in Texas and Georgia, major cotton producing states. India is also the world’s biggest cotton producer.

Favorable crop conditions would help India sell 7.5 million bales of cotton on the world market in 2017-18 against six million bales in the previous year. Hobbled by the rising rupee and unattractive global prices, India was struggling to sign export deals until a few weeks ago. But a recent rally in global prices made selling overseas more competitive.

Other than attractive prices, close proximity encouraged most Asian buyers to turn to India. While cargoes from the United States take about 50 days to reach Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan, India can ship its cotton in two weeks. India’s new season crop will be available to buyers from October, but the supplies from the United States will reach consumers only in January.